A dozen Philadelphia-area trailblazers are joining more than 500 notable African Americans across the country for the 2nd Annual Back to School with the HistoryMakers program. Tomorrow the nation’s largest African American video oral history archive is sending them into schools to recount their own experiences and struggles.
The Philadelphia HistoryMakers headed into schools include poet Sonia Sanchez.
“Our ancestors were punished for learning to read,” said Sanchez. “So I just really want to say to them that their years spent at Ben Franklin, it’s really a call to action to walk upright as human beings, to walk the walk that Rosa Parks walked and Dorothy Height walked and Martin Luther King walked—people who struggled against the stereotypes that this country has had for African Americans.”
Former Philadelphia City Councilmember Augusta Clark said students need to see adults who are doing what they want to do.
“When I graduated from college, I certainly had never seen a black woman lawyer,” said Clark. “There are some young people thinking, ‘It’s a pipe dream. Oh it’s far-fetched.’ But if they see me and I tell them that I am the second daughter of sharecroppers from Alabama, born at the edge of the Depression, and they see it’s not a miracle, it’s hard work.”
The organization has interviewed over 2,000 HistoryMakers, with the goal of creating an archive of 5,000 interviews.